First discovered in 1939 by a daydreaming student named Arthur H. Stone, flexagons have attracted the curiosity of great scientists for decades, including Stone’s famous friend and colleague Richard Feynman.
Fig 1- Flexagons are origami-like puzzles that are simple to create from a piece of paper by cutting, folding, and pasting. Some of us may remember a simple flexagon called the “cootie catcher” from elementary school.
Having just moved to Princeton N.J., Stone’s discovered American ‘letter’ paper was too large for his English (A4) binder. The problem was easily solved by trimming the paper to fit. But then, what to do with all those excised margins?
Arthur began to draw on them idly, and eventually.. he started to fold, pinch, and rotate the left-over paper strips – unwittingly inventing the multi-facted geometric oddity that he at first called hexaflexagons.
Not long after, a committee of fellow graduate students was formed at Princeton to solve the mysteries of these flexible hexagons, or as it soon became known, the flexagon.
Fig 1. YouTube math wizard Vi Hart presents us with the topologically fascinating hexaflexagon.
The hexaflexagon is folding freak’s delight. It exhibits a stunning level of multi-faceted symmetry. And in these uncertain times, it’s a welcome reminder of the immutable laws and unsung mysteries of physical universe.
In Short – Vi Hart has dubbed October “The Month of the Flexagon”. So we might see more Mysteries 0f Flexaganation in the coming weeks.
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